PRESS RELEASE: Catholics United Statement on Pope Benedict XVI’s Announcement of Resignation

Posted February 11, 2013

WASHINGTON – Catholics United Executive Director James Salt made the following statement today upon hearing Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement he will resign effective Feb. 28:

“Today’s surprising announcement from Pope Benedict XVI is a sign of humility from the aging Holy Father. In light of his decision, we must take the opportunity to reflect on the challenges of this papacy. To many, the Catholic church hierarchy has been seen as an institution overly focused on issues of human sexuality, such as opposition to access to birth control and marriage equality, rather than first serving the poor as Christ commanded.

“The next pope has a unique opportunity to radically shift the agenda of the church. Increasingly, the Catholic church is one that represents interests far removed from Europe or North America. The cardinals can and should consider opening their horizons toward a successor from the global south, such as Latin America or Africa, whose experience represents a vastly different worldview than many church leaders.

PRESS RELEASE: Bishops Insincere in Finding Real Solutions

Posted February 07, 2013

US bishops reject contraceptive workaround and claim HHS accommodation still unacceptable

WASHINGTON – The US Conference of Catholic Bishops today released a statement saying the Feb. 1 compromise offered by the Department of Health and Human Services that completely removed religious employers from dealing with contraceptive services was still unacceptable.

While this announcement is as perplexing as it is disheartening, the deeper story is that the bishops seem more interested in playing to the trumped-up concerns of a far-right political movement rather than the real-world concerns of the faithful and Catholic employers.

“This announcement by the bishops today has zero to do with finding solutions to real problems and everything to do with scoring political points for the far right,” said James Salt, executive director for Catholics United. “This displays the sad state of affairs in the hierarchy in America. One is forced to ask the question: where are the adults in the room at the USCCB?”

The move comes as a surprise as the compromise had ameliorated the concerns of several far-right pundits.

PRESS RELEASE: Catholics Celebrate HHS Mandate Fix as All-Around Victory

Posted February 01, 2013

As predicted last year, the Obama Administration worked successfully to alleviate concerns of religious groups

WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration today announced the long-awaited rule clarifying the Health and Human Services preventative health care regulations, which universally covers women’s access to birth control.

The new proposed rule eliminates the so-called “four part test” for what constitutes an exempted religious employer and broadens the definition of organizations eligible to opt-out of contraceptive coverage to any IRS-designated “religious employer.”

Self-insurers will no longer be expected to provide contraceptive coverage, which will now be covered completely by the coming health care exchanges. Religious employers will see no change, as an employee’s insurer would be wholly responsible for the cost of preventative care.

PRESS RELEASE: Catholics Support President Obama’s Immigration Proposal

Posted January 29, 2013

Brings hope to millions living in shadows

WASHINGTON – President Obama today announced his support for the bipartisan Senate proposal released Monday aimed at easing the plight of undocumented immigrants in America, a move long sought for by advocates of Catholic social teaching. In addition, the President laid out his own plan, advocating for a clearer, simpler path to citizenship for the undocumented.

Comprehensive immigration reform, including that path to citizenship for those already in America, is a long-sought goal of politicians and people of all faiths that has eluded Congress for decades. With the election providing a clear mandate for easing suffering and division, observers note the President and the Senate can perhaps find the political will to come together to achieve a major victory for the common good.

PRESS RELEASE: Catholics United Applauds President Obama’s Selection of Denis McDonough as New Chief of Staff

Posted January 25, 2013

WASHINGTON – Catholics United Executive Director James Salt released the following statement in reaction to President Obama’s selection of Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough as his new chief of staff:

“The appointment of Denis McDonough, a devout Catholic, as chief of staff demonstrates the President’s commitment to placing good people in important positions,” said Salt. “Our nation will be well served by his selection. Throughout his career, Denis has shown a tremendous work ethic and an abiding concern for those who suffer.

“Denis is the kind of person who will open doors for others. I remember in 2009 he helped connect me with then Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina to talk about the concerns of the Catholic community. He didn't have to do this; he went out of his way to help me. In a city like Washington, that sort of kindness is rare and will serve the President well.”

Founded in 2004, Catholics United, and its educational arm, Catholics United Education Fund, are non-profit, non-partisan organizations dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition.

PRESS RELEASE: Santa on Capitol Hill: A Lot of Naughty Big Boys and Girls

Posted December 21, 2012

Disappointed by inaction of Congress, Santa returned to Capitol Hill with load of coal for intransigent members

WASHINGTON – A week after coming to Washington to plead with Representative Paul Ryan and Speaker John Boehner to save Christmas by passing tax relief for the middle class, Santa is back and he’s not happy.

With Congress deadlocked over passing tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans, Santa Claus returned to Capitol Hill to deliver 120 pounds of coal to the naughty congressmen and congresswomen who refused to save Christmas. By failing to come to agreement on saving middle class families more than $2,000 in tax hikes, Congressional leadership is seemingly prepared to allow the US economy to go over the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

“It makes me very sad to deliver this coal to Congress, but their inaction is inexcusable,” said Santa. “Christmas should be a time of peace and hope. Instead, Congress is telling families that the best they can do is deliver more uncertainty and higher taxes. That’s beyond naughty; it’s flat wrong.”

PRESS RELEASE: Catholics United Statement on Shooting in Connecticut

Posted December 14, 2012

Calls on President Obama to lead national discussion on preventing gun violence, is “disappointed by his lack of action”

WASHINGTON – Catholics United Executive Director James Salt released the following statement in reaction to this morning’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.:

“Today’s shooting is yet another horrific marker in a seemingly endless cycle of gun violence in America. As we mourn the dead and send thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims of this senseless act, we know prayer alone is not enough.

“As Catholics who support the social justice achievements of this President, we are disappointed in his lack of action in working to prevent these heinous acts of violence. We call on President Obama to find the courage to lead our nation and help bring a true and lasting end to gun violence.

PRESS RELEASE: Cuccinelli Blasts Catholic Church for “Creating Culture of Dependency” in Caring for Poor

Posted December 14, 2012

Calling the Catholic leadership “soft” and “weak,” presumptive GOP Va. gubernatorial nominee condemns charitable advocacy of Church

WASHINGTON – Citing efforts by the Catholic Church to alleviate the suffering of the poor and marginalized, saying it has “always cost [Americans’] liberty,” Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli blasted church leadership for fighting for universal health care and immigrants’ rights while speaking at September’s Cherish Life Ministries Christian Life Summit, the blog ThinkProgress has learned.

Saying the American church’s efforts to lobby for health care reform and strengthening the social safety net create “a culture of dependency,” Cuccinelli, a practicing Catholic and front-runner for the Virginia GOP’s upcoming gubernatorial nomination, condemned the US Catholic bishops for decades of lobbying the government on behalf of the poor. Cuccinelli suggested the church should not ask for government money in its mission to alleviate suffering.

PRESS RELEASE: Santa Claus to Congress: Be Nice, Pass Tax Cuts for 98 Percent of Americans

Posted December 12, 2012

Father Christmas joins fiscal showdown negotiations, encourages Congressional leaders to remember the poorest and most vulnerable

WASHINGTON – Christmas came two weeks early to Capitol Hill. Santa Claus himself made an emergency appearance on the East Lawn of the US Capitol Building today, urging Congressional leaders to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” and get on to the business of passing tax relief for millions of American families.

Speaking at a press conference, Claus implored lawmakers to put partisan posturing aside and work together to help struggling families and not hold out for low taxes for the very wealthy.

“There is still time,” said Claus. “You all know I keep a very famous list. I assure you that I am checking it twice--each day--and very soon you’ll all know who has been naughty and who has been nice.”

Claus, famous for his annual holiday deliveries, said he’s grown to understand many of the families he meets every year are struggling to find real solutions for child care, job loss and medical care, and the “fiscal cliff” is the last thing these hurting families need.

PRESS RELEASE: Catholics #AskPontifex: What to Do About Fiscal Cliff?

Posted December 12, 2012

Celebrating Benedict XVI’s entry onto Twitter, lay Catholics are asking the Holy Father to weigh in on the crisis in Congress

WASHINGTON – The pope is on Twitter, thanks be to God.

Now, Catholics are taking to the social media powerhouse to ask the Holy Father what he thinks about the stalemate in Washington over the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Catholics United, a lay Catholic social justice advocacy organization, today organized a campaign to tweet questions about economic justice to the pope using the hashtag “#askpontifex,” in reference to Pope Benedict XVI’s chosen Twitter handle, @Pontifex.

“It’s an opportunity for Catholics in the pews to ask for guidance and leadership directly from the pope, and that’s something that’s truly unusual and exciting,” said James Salt, executive director for Catholics United. “We only hope that this action can help bring some humanity and compassion back into the debate. The pope, of all people, knows that we must first consider the poor and marginalized–these least among us–in every political debate. I hope Catholic politicians and people of faith are listening to his response.”